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Rural and regional Australia a focus of new Skilling Australians Fund

Rural and regional Australia are a focus of a new $1.5 billion Skilling Australians Fund announced by the Turnbull Government that will create an extra 300,000 apprentices over the next four years.

Member for Durack Melissa Price said the Skilling Australians Fund recognises how important vocational education and apprenticeships are to industries and job seekers in rural and regional areas.

“The Coalition has identified growth industries that will be prioritised under the Skilling Australians Fund and that includes agriculture and tourism, which are so important to Durack” Ms Price said. 

“This reform provides new opportunities for people in Durack to take up apprenticeships and traineeships, pre-apprenticeships and higher level apprenticeships in occupations of high demand or with future growth potential,” Ms Price said 

“I encourage the Western Australian Government to put forward innovative projects to ensure our local community is able to share in the opportunities that this new funding provides.

Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, Karen Andrews, said the Skilling Australians Fund and the $60 million Industry Specialist Mentoring for Australian Apprentices scheme are key parts of the Coalition’s plan to significantly boost apprentice numbers throughout Australia.

“The Fund will create an extra 300,000 apprentices over the next four years reversing the dramatic decline that occurred under the National Partnership Agreement signed off by Labor in 2012,” Minister Andrews said.

“The biggest annual decline in apprentices in Australia occurred in Labor’s last year in office from June 2012 to June 2013 when the number collapsed from around 515,000 to 404,000, or 22 per cent,” Minister Andrews said.

Mrs Andrews said the Fund will be financed by the Government’s recent reforms requiring employers hiring temporary or permanent employer-sponsored foreign workers to pay a fee. 

“We understand that overseas skilled migrants may be necessary to fill a short term need, but the Turnbull Government is ensuring that in the long term we can fulfil those skills needs with Australian workers, which is good for Australian business and good for our economy” Minister Andrews said. 

Minister Andrews said the new industry specialised mentoring service continued the Government’s focus on supporting apprentices and trainees, complementing the existing services available under the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network program. 

Ms Price said the service would help keep apprentices in training by providing added support in the first two years of training. 

“This will improve completion rates and support the supply of skilled workers in industries undergoing structural change,” Ms Price said. 

“The focus on apprenticeships and traineeships in the Budget will boost the number of young people in  Durack who choose and succeed in this pathway. It will support more members of our community to get the skills they need in industries of the future.”

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